Monthly Archives: September 2014

iPad Piano Teacher: Wendy Kirby-Alexander

One of the best things about this busy summer? Getting to know Wendi Kirby-Alexander. Turns out she is quite the pianist, an amazing teacher and a rockin’ iPad Piano teacher, too!

Tell us a about yourself, Wendy.Wendy KA 2

I have been teaching piano for 30 years and Kindermusik for 24 years.  I have 30 private piano students and 100 Kindermusik kids!  I am the preschool music director for Vinewood Preschool, Center Representative for the Royal Conservatory’s Music Development Program, District Coordinator for CAPMT (MTNA) and president of my local MTAC branch.  I am a forever student because I feel that the best teachers are always students themselves. I am always looking for new ideas for my studio and I enjoy creating games and new ways for my students to engage in music.  The highlight of my summer was attending Bradley Sowash and Leila Viss’ 88 Creative Keys Camp in Denver, Colorado.

How long have you integrated the iPad into your teaching?

I have been using the iPad for about a year.

Did you use various technology tools before the iPad? If so, please explain.

I have had a computer lab in my studio for the past 15 years.  My students stay for 30 minutes after their private lesson for lab.  They play various software games on the computer, iPad apps, listen to composer biographies, do worksheets (now on iPad rather than paper), ear training activities and more.

Do you use the iPad in your group lessons? If so, please briefly explain which apps are used and how. Continue reading

Smash Some Apps and Save a Tree

photo 4Note: this is more than one app at a time as the process below involves a couple of apps (called app smashing) but definitely worth your time.

One more note: tap here to view a video giving you visuals of the step-by step instructions.

There’s nothing like pencil and paper to demonstrate comprehension of a concept. However, it seems theory book and worksheet assignments are often left undone between lessons. Utilizing the right apps is a sure way to solve this problem.

Numerous online resources offer outstanding worksheets to review just about any music-related concept. Susan Paradis has offered incredibly creative, free worksheets for years.

(If you enjoyer her resources, don’t forget to donate.) What you’ll find is a plethora of worksheets that encourage reinforcement off the bench and on the page with a pencil. Printing the colorful and carefully-crafted pages is an option, but usually completed worksheets find their way to the trash bin. Tablets and the integration of various apps offer an option for students to complete these review sheets with no ink or paper.

photo 5The following process coined “app smashing” will help you maintain a tree-saving studio and promise more completed theory assignments as a finger-tip or stylus and a screen are exponentially more appealing than mere pencil and paper.

Steps to paperless worksheets

Shop Open the Safari browser and type in the address of a favorite site. Once a PDF is located, tap on the link until it appears on the screen.

Select Tap on the screen and the words “Open in iBooks” or “Open in …” will appear in the upper right-hand corner. This offers many choices depending upon the apps on your iPad. A must-have app in which to save the document is Evernote.

unnamedStockpile Tapping on the Evernote icon will move the document to this versatile app which serves as a spacious warehouse for all types of media including photos, posts, emails, and your favorite PDFs. The app syncs across multiple devices so if you find a document that you like while browsing on your laptop, you can choose to store it in Evernote, and you can magically access the same document on your iPad.

Organize After the document is opened in Evernote, you have an option to name the note  and choose a notebook in which to file it. Creating notebooks and labeling them with titles such as Key Signatures, or Rhythm will help you keep your collection of notes organized and easy to retrieve.

Transfer Instead of printing off the worksheet for each student, open the document in Evernote and tap on the screen. A small square with an arrow pointing upward on the right-hand corner will appear which offers to open the document in various apps. One to consider is Notability.

photo 1Utilize When a document is opened in Notability, users can write with various pen colors and highlighters or type text on the screen/document with a finger tip or stylus. In addition, the worksheets can be easily duplicated, retitled and moved into customizable color-coded folders labelled with student names.


Not sure about smashing all these apps? Consider SproutBeat, a one-stop shopping music worksheet app that offers a growing library of documents for completion with on-screen annotation. The app offers only one copy of each worksheet with an option to print but no option to duplicate for use on the iPad. Multiple students can use the worksheets if the answers from a previous student are cleared.




The Links, Platforms and Approximate Pricing

Evernote, Mac, Windows, iOS and Android, Free with In-App Purchases

Notability, Ginger Labs, iOS only, $2.99

SproutBeat, Laughlin, iPad Only, Free to $19.99

My Favorite New iPad Accessory: Manos Mount

You wouldn’t believe what items I’ve stacked to create a suitable home for my iPad while recording myself at the keys. Well, perhaps you would because you’ve been in the same pickle trying to find the perfect height for the camera angle? I’m downright embarrassed of my homespun remedy. How could any self-respecting iPad owner be so out of touch with mounts for the iPad?  I include the pic below to confess the depth of my “unsavviness”  and to show you how far my camera equipment has come in just a few days.



Let me share my good news–I mean really good news: there is now a unique mount for any size device with a camera!

The makers of the AirTurn pedal have done it again and created an accessory you will not be able to live without as an iPad owner. It’s called the AirTurn Manos Mount.  The design is inspired by the human hand–so simple and yet so clever AND universal. It will hold all your devices of any size–phone, mini-iPad, iPad Air–any generation of iPad or other tablet. I could go on and on, but instead watch the video below as Hugh Sung explains it better than I.

Here are pics of how the iPad even with the case fits snugly into mount. It even can hold the tiny camera I use for my online lessons.


The ONE extra item required for this to function is a microphone stand. I had recently purchased one to hold my small camera but was using duct tape (!) to fasten the camera to the mic stand. Another piece of good news: it is Mic Month at Guitar Center (click here for all the deals.) I chose to purchase a relatively inexpensive stand and it works fine. Whatever you choose to spend, it will be worth the investment if you are interested in using the Manos Mount with your iPad or additional devices.  For online lessons, recording students, etc., I can’t think of a better combination. Wow, my video life has improved dramatically.